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What the Kavanaugh Vote Means For Women And Democracy

The Kavanaugh vote must be the beginning of the end of a corrupt judicial system, says NADJA’s co-founder Leila Hawkins.

At first glance democracy lost. Despite the moving testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford and the veracity of the accusation that should have ended his career as a judge, followed by a pathetic, petulant hearing so abysmal even retired Supreme Court judge and lifelong Republican John Paul Stevens said it ought to disqualify him, Brett Kavanaugh is now a member of the highest court in the judiciary of the US, and will remain there till he retires.

With his appointment the court officially becomes majority Republican-endorsed with a sharp shift to the classic hard right of US conservatism: anti-abortion, pro-guns, and pro-business rather than being pro the needs of the population as a previous case he dealt with involving the Affordable Care Act demonstrated. His beliefs explain the sort of “investigation” his #1 fan Donald Trump ordered the FBI to carry out, and what it led to.

The 50-48 vote was one of the narrowest in the Supreme Court’s history. But as we see time and time again (the UK’s Brexit being a very current case in point) political aspirations are far more important than what’s best for the people – Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat facing re-election in Republican West Virginia, voted in his favour.

We could continue to express outrage at Kavanaugh’s hypocrisy, at the President of the United States’ open disrespect towards women, and at the way this shambolic display of corruption has played out. We could, and no doubt will, furiously discuss the disastrous consequences it will have on the rights of the next generation of women.

But instead it’s time to condemn to death a system where the judges who have the final say in legal matters across the most powerful nation in the world is made up of people nominated by the President and voted in by other politicians according to their ideologies, and who then stay firmly rooted until they’re ready to retire – which in the case of John Paul Stevens, was at the age of 90.

This debacle has made a mockery of the judicial system of the “land of the free”, but this isn’t a bad thing. Women and men travelled to Washington to protest this miscarriage of justice, now this anger must be directed at a system that is making a fool of its people by pretending to be apolitical.

It is not the time to be disheartened. Things are not getting worse. Just the day before the vote the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two activists fighting against the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. In the words of Linda Sarsour, one of the organisers of the Women’s March which saw millions take to the streets after Trump’s election, speaking to the Guardian: “But nothing is irreparable. Women are running for office and protesting in record numbers.”

Leila Hawkins

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Featured image copyright of Lorie Shaull, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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